Analytic languages and their function.

Salinas17 at Salinas17 at
Fri May 26 16:38:51 UTC 2006

In a message dated 5/25/06 12:20:23 PM, W.Schulze at writes:
<< There is no proof that a sociological habitus can be immediately related 
to a linguistic type. There is no convincing evidence that growing 
interactional complexity favors linguistic complexity. Nor does exist evidence for the 
contrary. >>

But perhaps there is some evidence that English lost inflection because of a 
mixed populations of bi-lingual speakers.  (And perhaps Bulgarian is another 

It makes sense to expect that differences in developed structure are the 
result of differences in function.  But it may be a bit too general to look for 
"sociological habitus" or "complexity" to account for differences in 
morphological typology.

If we stick with communication as the variable, we might see 
analytical/isolating languages as a natural reaction by speakers to clashing inflectional 
systems as an obstacle to communication.  While synthetic languages reflect a more 
mature development where speakers have found a Gouldian/Dixonian equilibrium. 
 Perhaps the Grand Cycle is mainly a reflection of varying exposure of a 
working language to non-native speakers.

With regard to the first language(s), a question to ask is whether we'd 
expect such languages to include nuanced concepts of tense, case and relationship.  
Did the first language automatically distinguish in a comprehensible way 
between present, past or the future?  Did it disambigulate between singular and 
plural, near and far, genders or definitiveness?  We can certainly imagine a 
language where such distinctions are omitted.  And we can imagine how language 
might have been gradually tuned to reflect such concepts, as their importance to 
precise communication became apparent.  This kind of approach gives us a 
better idea of how a complex language -- representing the complexity of the world 
we live in -- might have looked when it started.  It also possibly supplies us 
with a sense of what order languages must be built in.

Steve Long

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